Monster Magnet – “Last Patrol” (Napalm Records 2013, NPR490)

I’ve followed Monster Magnet through thick and thin since the Glitterhouse label releases in 1990-91, their earliest records were so original for the “grunge era” as they owed more to The Stooges and early Hawkwind than the Pearl Jams and the Alice In Chainses and the Smashing Pumpkinses of that short lived era roughly 1987-1995. Monster Magnet’s most successful record, at least creatively, of that era may be the ultra cosmic Dopes To Infinity album in 1995, along with their earlier material on Glitterhouse and A&M, which all is stellar, but with Dopes they really pulled out all the stops. At the height of my Monster Magnet fandom I was doing as much drugs as Dave Wyndorf did in his time, if not more and attended art school in his home state of New Jersey in the first half of the 90s where I had my first LSD trips, my first lay (with a local stripper with a Danzig logo tattooed over her butt, wahey!) and my first professional art job inking Marvel artist Duncan Rouleau for a small independent publisher who rode the coat tails of gritty and dark 90s violent “alternative” comics wave. So there you go, New Jersey, Strippers, LSD, Hawkwind (I’d been into Hawkwind since 1988) and grade-B Marvel comix jobs. So I identified with all the stuff Wyndorf “preached” and then some. Our own druggy cult of LSD dropping stoners at art school would gather around the lava lamp or trip in the strobelight to Donovan, Hawkwind, Skinny Puppy, Sun Dial, Monster Magnet, Negativland and Syd Barrett CDs and toke up and chomp on a 1/8th bag of dried mushrooms each and we would be like the “bad guys” or the “dudes”. We had strong bonds in those heady Art student days.

Now that I am almost 42 I have not taken LSD or harder drugs (we used to play card games for cocaine) in nearly 20 years and it has been almost five years since someone passed me a joint. So I am sure Dave Wyndorf, having reached middle age and beyond, like me has “mellowed out” and stopped getting high all the friggin time, and frankly it shows on his post-Millenial output which has been patchy. The Monolithic Baby! album from 2004 spoke directly to me much like the glammed up Powertrip” release (1998, I even reviewed it for Aural Innovations back then) as if Dave was talking to somoeone in his lyrics, a misguided stoner or slacker, or a two bit punk. It’s been a long strange “trip” of personal redneck gibberish debriefing comic book commie-kid type talks, as if I were R. Crumb on Mars getting a lobotomy, I have often felt like it was me he was hassling in his heyday like “I’m a mean piece of stoner”. “Hey Christian, you friggin madman, we all look real overfed! Suckin on yer daddy’s cigar!” Etc. Etc.

The last album, being Mastermind, from 2010, was not bad at all really, and now to Last Patrol, the newest offering here in 2013. After 25 years I am not sure Dave knows who or what he is “talking to”. Its not like he is Kurt Cobain on Nevermind or anything, he is not being my private telepathic junkie-psychologist like Kurt seemed to be. Wyndorf has always been a little bit of an enemy to some of my ideals or reasons for doing stuff, like he “tells me” on his records (I’m nuts for saying this, but then again, we are all Gods here at AI towers, so we take exceptions.). But now, I am all grown up now, and wiser than I was in 1990. The two best songs on Last Patrol are The Mindless Ones an old-school Monster Magnet psych out, in loving style we want more of! The bonus track Strobe Ligh Beat Down is an upbeat garage rocker which Monster Magnet do so well, which I enjoyed alot. Otherwise this new offering is pretty uninspired on the rest of the album. One song is a cover of a Donovan song I am unfamiliar with called Three Kingfishers, which is kind of unusual for this band, but enjoyable. I like to compare Last Patrol to the band’s arguable nadir from 2007 Four Way Diablo. It is seemingly mostly uninspired, downbeat and negative sounding. No massive freakouts or drug addled bubblegum comic book references, just Dave singing to this and that yakketyak “someone” he lost track of all those years ago. He likes to say in interviews it is about ex-girlfriends so I guess he has alot of those. I guess rock stars get groupies, artists get none. I give this album a 6 out of 10, it really is pale in comparison to their 90s output or even Monolithic and Mastermind. Bummer. Dave Wyndorf has burned out a long time ago anyway, so I wasn’t expecting genius like Spine or Dopes or Monolithic anyway, so I’ll just leave it at that. I am underwhelmed a little. Buy it if you “follow Wyndorf” but DON’T buy it if you think you are getting some sort of Psychedelic freakout. Sorry.

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Reviewed by Christian Mumford

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